When I was chatting with the editors in New York I told them that I am usually assigned to photograph people who have never been professionally photographed before unless you count their senior portrait or a sitting for Olan Mills. As a result I am working with rather raw subjects and I am very much exploring mentally the subject in the first minute or so to see where they are coming from while the other part of my brain is trying to figure out what the heck I’m going to photograph. Rarely do I get an assignment where I know anything about the subject thus why I try to do whatever research on a subject I can before hand.
So I get an assignment in my e-mail box a bit ago that stopped me in my tracks. The assignment basically said “Boulder based band The Samples are getting back together with the original lineup for a performance at the Mile High Music Fest. Get photos of them rehearsing for our story”. I just stared at my screen with that kind of head tilt that a dog does when you make a squeaky noise. The Samples? Wha? No way. So I pulled up Wikipedia, don’t we all now?, and lo and behold it’s them. Sha-ZAM!
I drive to their rehearsal space to find a tiny little studio that is lit by a few 60 watt bulbs in the most unflattering position – the floor! So it’s dark, crapily lit and cool. Why? Because it’s moody as heck. Luckily we have these cameras that make lovely ISO3200 files and with f/2.8 or better yet my f/1.4 glass I was able to shoot without strobes and not get in the way of the musicians relearning songs that they haven’t played in almost 18 years.
Here are some of my faves from that.
Oh there is another reason why this was a cool gig. I love these guys. Way back when I was young and in a band we used to have The Samples on our mix tapes to play during the after show parties at the band house. People used to wonder why we, a heavy metal band, were playing this ska-funk-folky stuff? I would tell them to shut up and listen to it. They would smile and nod along and say “Oh, yeah! Cool jam.” They were/are this fun energy band that is great for partying to. It was great to hear them play, basically for me the only other one there, these tunes that I loved but I had forgotten about from a time so long ago that it seems like a dream. I didn’t know they were from Boulder. We thought they were from L.A. because we didn’t have the Net back then y’all. So after the break while I’m packing up my gear I tell them my story and Sean their main guy asks if he can get me on video telling it for a documentary he’s doing about the band. Wha? SURE! So we go outside and he grabs his vid cam and I tell my tale. First time I’ve been interviewed on assignment by a subject.
Yeah, it’s a cool life.